A trash-filled Japanese cargo craft is preparing to deorbit over the Pacific Ocean after Wednesday’s release from the Harmony node. Meanwhile, three Expedition 36 crew members are getting ready to return home on Tuesday.
Japan’s H-II Transfer Vehicle-4 (HTV-4) continues its journey away from the International Space Station. Flight Engineer Karen Nyberg used the Canadarm2 to grapple and release the HTV-4 on Wednesday. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s fourth resupply craft from will fire its engines for the last time early Saturday morning for a destructive reentry over the Pacific Ocean.
Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin are winding down their 5-1/2 month mission as Expedition 35/36 crew members. The space trio is packing and readying their Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft for a landing in Kazakhstan Tuesday at 10:58 p.m. EDT (8:58 a.m. Wednesday Kazakhstan).
Despite the vehicle departure activities, the six-member crew is also busy with numerous ongoing science experiments, maintenance and exercise.
Nyberg worked inside the Kibo laboratory checking the insulation inside a gradient heater furnace. She also videotaped plants cultivated for a Japanese botany experiment to encourage students to study science.
Cassidy joined Flight Engineer Luca Parmitano for more work with the long-running SPHERES experiment, another study that periodically involves students. Thursday’s SPHERES (Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites) study involved using smartphones to control bowling-ball-sized satellites during an inspection task inside the station.
On the Russian side of the station Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin started his day on maintenance tasks. Later he worked on a couple of Russian experiments. He copied data to a laptop computer collected for the Identification study which documents dynamic loads on the space station. For the Matroyshka experiment he measured radiation in the station’s Russian segment.
Back on Earth, Expedition 37/38 crew members Oleg Kotov, Mike Hopkins and Sergey Ryazanskiy are preparing for their launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft on Sept. 25, U.S. time. They will dock to the Poisk mini-research module after four orbits, or about six hours later.